Mark Fialkowski, who is a painter at Hinsdale, viewed his time constructing the micropantry as a way of serving God. In 1995, he fell off a ladder and broke his back. He was worried he would never walk again. “But when the doctors told me I would be fine, I realized that God was looking out for me,” he said, and then dedicated himself to looking out for others.
For the past three years, AdventHealth hospitals in Hinsdale and La Grange have partnered with the Hinsdale Church and a local food bank to run the twice-monthly Rx Mobile Pantry.
“Clinicians identify patients in the system who live at the intersection of food insecurity and chronic disease,” said Janet Kennedy, program manager, Clinical Mission Integration. Patients are referred to the Rx Mobile Pantry which distributes food at the local church. But she became concerned about people who needed food when the mobile pantry was not operating and decided a micropantry might fill the gap.
A micropantry is a freestanding box that holds nonperishable food and is open all the time to people who need food as well as those who want to restock it. A sign on the pantry says, “Take What You Need. Leave What You Can.” Kennedy brought the idea to Joe McGovern, facilities manager at AdventHealth Hinsdale. During a facilities meeting, he suggested building one.
“When I heard about it, I decided I was going to do it,” said Mark Fialkowski, who is a painter at Hinsdale.
He acquired a plan from AdventHealth GlenOaks and received some input from Harlo Chapman, a colleague at Hinsdale. But he was determined to build every part of the pantry himself. Fialkowski saw it as a way to live out the system’s mission of Extending the Healing Ministry of Christ and pay forward his good fortune after he was seriously injured in an accident.
The micropantry was put up in the yard of the Hinsdale Church in April 2022, which is next door to the hospital. Church members and local residents keep the micropantry stocked, and food left over from the Rx Mobile Pantry events also often finds its way in.
But the most moving contributions come from those in need who recognize that others may be in greater need.
“One of the really beautiful things is that the people who come to the mobile pantry often bring food they have taken from that pantry and donate it to the micropantry,” Kennedy said. “They will say, ‘I took this, but I think there might be people who need it more than I do.’”
“It is a very beautiful piece of our mission living that we could never have imagined,” she said.
Julie Busch is assistant vice president of Marketing & Communications for the Great Lakes Region of AdventHealth